HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) – On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced a Huntsville man for tampering with vehicle odometers and bank fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and U.S. Secret Service Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Holloway.
A federal jury convicted Randy Eugene Greene, 62, in April, of 11 counts of tampering with vehicle odometers and three counts of bank fraud.
U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon sentenced Greene to 30 months in prison followed by three years supervised release. Greene is also ordered to pay more than $109,000 in restitution to the victims.
The judge also entered a forfeiture judgment in the amount of $28,000.
“Greene violated the trust and confidence placed in him by the consumers and financial institutions,” Town said. “The theft and misuse of funds will not be tolerated by those who operate these type of schemes. They will be charged with federal crimes and will to go federal prison.”
Prosecutors say Greene was rolling back odometers at RJ’s Auto Sales on South Memorial Parkway. The 11 counts related to these convictions occurred between approximately Oct. 1, 2014, and Nov. 2, 2016. Prosecutors say the largest discrepancy in the changed odometer reading was approximately 218,678 miles, and the average discrepancy in the mileage on the odometers for the various vehicles was 122,046 miles.
In the three counts related to bank fraud, Greene was convicted of engaging in a scheme to defraud Redstone Federal Credit Union. The fraud occurred when the credit union financed three of the vehicles on which the odometers had been changed.
Greene was served with a notice of forfeiture related to the bank fraud counts, which includes but is not limited to a money judgement in the amount of $28,000.
The U.S. Secret Service investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell E. Penfield and R. Leann White prosecuted.
A Rapid Car Check survey has found that 6.49% of vehicles have mileage issues.
In a pool of 1 million, 64,986 were found to have issues, despite members of the European Parliament voting in favour of new legislation to combat mileage clocking in cars in 2018.
The most common clocked vehicles were the Renault Grand Scenic and Renault Scenic, with a fail percentage of 32.66% and 32.14% respectively.
The most common year of vehicle registration was 1998 with a 16.47% fail rate. Vehicle registered in the 1990’s made up six of the top 10, with no vehicles registered after 2003 present.
Overall, rapid check estimates that 2,479,180 vehicles in the UK have mileage issues.
Before passing legislation in 2018, German MEP Ismail Ertug said around 50% of used cars sold inside the EU, and between 30% and 50% of cars sold across borders within the EU, had been clocked.
MEPs called new legislation that included national mileage registers to be made accessible across borders. Car buyers should be able to verify mileage readings regardless of the country it was previously registered.
They also called for carmakers to set clear criteria for checking that odometers are tamper proof.
Barry Shorto, head of industry relations at cap hpi, said at the time: “In Belgium and the Netherlands where readings are collected more frequently than elsewhere, odometer fraud has been almost eradicated.
“We fully support calls for mileage alternation or clocking to be made a criminal offence. Even though clocking has a negative impact on road safety, only six EU countries recognise odometer manipulation as a criminal offence.”
ARLINGTON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Transportation Division of Motor Vehicles has revoked the licenses for two car dealers with ties to Columbia County.
An investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Dealer and Agent Section found that Best Motors and Manhattan Motors sold vehicles with mileage discrepancies, which is in violation of state law. The dealerships have licenses operated out of Arlington, Wisconsin. The licenses are linked to a business at 101 Skyline Drive in Arlington. Under Wisconsin state law, each licensee must have an office location and Best Motors and Manhattan Motors are registered to this location.
It is possible that these licenses belong to dealerships operated in another state.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Dealer and Agent Section licenses, regulates and resolves disputes about dealerships sales and warranty repairs, as well as educates the motor vehicle industry and public. The group also investigates complaints about odometer tampering involving dealerships and private sellers.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — A Lee County deputy who once campaigned for sheriff is on administrative leave, and now his business is under investigation by a state agency.
James Didio ran for Lee County Sheriff in 2016. Fox 4 has learned that a customer of Didio’s used car business, Southwest Florida Motors in Fort Myers, claims that someone rolled back the odometer on a car they bought there.
Last week, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Didio has been placed on administrative leave, but would not say why.
Fox 4 found that a customer complained to the Better Business Bureau in March that a car purchased at Southwest Florida Motors showed an odometer reading of about 107,000 miles. The complaint states that “the car has over 160,000 miles, but shows 107,000 from having the odometer illegally changed.” The customer claims that the discrepancy was discovered by checking oil change records.
In a response to the complaint, Southwest Florida Motors wrote, “The moment I was informed of a possible odometer fraud from years before I ever owned the vehicle, we did a complete AutoCheck Dealer VIN scan. The check came back ‘No odometer fraud found.'”
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is investigating the complaint, but the Lee County Sheriff’s Office will not confirm that is the reason for Didio’s administrative leave..
Didio could not be reached for comment on this story.
A Powhatan County man was convicted Monday for his role in a scheme that rolled back the odometers on more than 50 vehicles, fraudulently boosting the value of each one by as much as $10,000.
Michael Carey Eubank, 52, who owns an automotive electronics repair shop in Powhatan, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to alter a motor vehicle odometer and faces up to five years in prison when sentenced Oct. 9 by U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr.
A two-page criminal charge filed June 10 alleged that Eubank’s company website advertised services that included “odometer re-programming or re-setting.” It also stated that, “Mileage proof [is] required, odometer tampering is a federal crime.”
The charge only identified the company as “Company 1.” But Eubank told Gibney on Monday that his company is Advanced Auto Electronics and was formerly located in Midlothian.
From September 2010 to June 2018, Eubank conspired with at least one other person to reset the odometers to false, lower readings. “Individuals brought vehicles, or vehicle instrument clusters containing odometers, to Company 1 and requested that Eubank change the odometers to lower mileage readings,” the government alleged.
The only co-conspirator identified in court papers is Lawson Basnight, 49, of Norfolk, who pleaded guilty to the same charge last year and was sentenced to 18 months behind bars.
Basnight was also ordered to pay more than $403,000 in restitution — the difference in price caused by the false readings plus, in some cases, unexpected repair costs — to more than 50 victims. Basnight admitted running the scam from September 2010 through October 2016.
While the charging document against Eubank referred to multiple odometers, it only cited one specific case: On Feb. 25, 2016, Basnight brought a 2009 Ford F-150 with 165,000 miles on it and Eubank used an electronic tool to reset the odometer to 54,900 miles.
It was unclear Monday if Eubank participated in lowering the odometers of all of the vehicles in Basnight’s scheme and if the same restitution list of victims and losses will be sought in Eubank’s case.
Jacqueline M. Blaesi-Freed, a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice’s consumer protection branch, told Gibney on Monday that the losses were determined by the price Basnight paid for the vehicle and the price ultimately paid by the victims who purchased vehicles at fraudulently inflated prices.
She said that in some cases, unexpected repair bills were added to determine the loss incurred by a victim and in others, where the price difference could not be determined, an average loss figure of $7,868.58 was used — the same average figure used for Basnight.
In Basnight’s case, the false mileage readings on the altered odometers and fraudulent titles were as much as 110,000 miles less than the vehicles’ actual mileage, and Basnight netted as much as $10,000 in profit for each vehicle sold to an unsuspecting buyer.
Basnight found high-mileage vehicles online, at times posing as a used-car dealer or using an alias. When he bought the vehicles, he told the sellers not to fill out the assignment section of the title.
“After defendant Lawson W. Basnight purchased the vehicles, a co-conspirator acting at his direction disconnected, reset, and altered the vehicles’ odometers to reflect inaccurate lower mileage readings,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum concerning Basnight.
In response to questions from Gibney on Monday, Eubank said he altered the odometers for $125 a piece and that Basnight usually just brought the unit and left it at the front counter.
Basnight prepared title applications and other documents, writing in false odometer readings in the assignment section of the title. At times, he used unwitting people to obtain the titles and sell the vehicles to an unidentified “major used car retailer.”
“This was a long-running, well-thought-out scheme that [Basnight] ceased only after being caught by law enforcement,” prosecutors complained.
Prosecutors said the scheme not only led to unexpected repair and maintenance costs to the victims but also jeopardized driver safety.
Eubank, who had no prior criminal record, was allowed to remain free pending his sentencing hearing.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 450,000 vehicles are sold each year in the U.S. with false odometer readings, leading to losses of more than $1 billion to consumers.
The NHTSA has established a hotline to handle odometer fraud complaints at (888) 327-4236 (TTY for individuals with hearing impairments: (800) 424-9153).
Original Article: https://www.richmond.com/news/local/crime/owner-of-powhatan-auto-repair-shop-pleads-guilty-in-federal/article_4e258051-c815-5bb6-8744-47f0b6ebb314.html
BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) – Search warrants obtained by Target 2 Investigates reveal new information about a complex car fraud investigation in Northeast Wisconsin.
Robert Solberg and Joshua Taylor. Photos: Brown County Jail
Two men are accused of selling used vehicles with forged titles and altered odometers. In some cases, the odometers were rolled back. In other vehicles, they were replaced altogether.
Police say this happened over the past year at several locations in Wisconsin.
On June 3, Green Bay Police executed three search warrants and arrested Robert Solberg, 34, and Joshua Taylor, 37. The warrants were served at Solberg’s home, Taylor’s home, and a storage facility on Green Bay’s east side.
More than 40 pages of search warrants shed new light on the investigation. It started with one victim noticing handwriting on his vehicle’s title. The case took off from there.
WHAT WARRANTS TURNED UP
Warrants reveal that during searches of three properties, police seized six vehicles, phones, keys, titles, more than $4,000 in cash, and an odometer cluster–a tool used to alter mileage on a vehicle.
Officers also found multiple odometers. One was in a cardboard box. It had been shipped to Robert Solberg, warrants show.
The investigation started in March 2019. An odometer fraud investigator from the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles called Green Bay Police. The DMV needed help “with a report of title fraud and odometer tampering.”
A Brown County man had reported buying a GMC Yukon for $4,100 on Craigslist. He said he made the purchase from a man he didn’t know. He thought “the handwritten mileage on the title appeared forged from 214,450 miles to 114,459 miles.”
The odometer read the lower mileage, but was displaying an error code. He suspected some had “tampered with” it.
Police tracked down the original owner, who informed them that he had sold it days earlier–at nearly half the price. He said the vehicle had twice as many miles on it when he sold it.
The victim’s family started searching Craigslist and found more cars from the seller. There were listings around the state.
Police found another victim from Green Bay. He had purchased a vehicle that showed 114,000 miles on the odometer. However, he learned the vehicle’s real mileage was 300,000.
One witness told police “4-5 odometers [were] being shipped to [Solberg’s] house each week,” according to warrants. The documents state that Joshua Taylor bought the “odometer tool off eBay for $4,000.”
Police uncovered a voicemail from an Appleton store that had informed Solberg, “the odometer cluster he ordered was in stock.”
The warrants indicate Solberg would find vehicles on Craigslist and Taylor would roll back the miles. They split the profit 50-50, documents show.
Police have referred counts of theft and forgery to the Brown County District Attorney’s Office. No charges have been filed as of this publication. The investigation continues.
Joshua Taylor is being held in the Brown County Jail on a probation violation.
Robert Solberg has been released from jail.
Since our initial Target 2 Investigates story aired June 4, police have received numerous calls from other victims. They believe there are many more out there. If you believe you’re a victim, contact your local law enforcement agency.
“If you are a Green Bay resident or this occurred in the City of Green Bay, we certainly want to know about it because they were doing it in Marinette County, Wausau,” Green Bay Police Lt. Ben Allen says. “If this occurred where a purchase was made in another jurisdiction, we definitely encourage them to contact their local agency and we’ll try to coordinate with them.”
Like most big criminal cases, the odometer fraud ring that Missouri Highway Patrol Cpl. Nate Bradley recently busted started with one victim.
“A gentleman came to my shop here in Lee’s Summit and he said, ‘Hey, I bought this car, and I think I got swindled,'” Bradley recalls. “So I started looking into it and sure enough, he got swindled.”
Over a five-year investigation, Bradley eventually uncovered 48 victims of a rollback scheme around Kansas City, according to a grand jury indictment in a case that was recently unsealed.
Charged are 48-year-old Wilfred Albanese and his girlfriend, 47-year-old Susan Cunningham. The couple “purchased high-mileage used vehicles and then used a variety of means to alter or reduce the mileage shown on the odometer,” according to the indictment. They would also disable the check engine light, conceal rust and other damage with paint and alter maintenance records, all to make the car look better to their victims.
Bradley says Albanese went to great lengths to sell the scheme. He had “KC” tattooed on an earlobe, even though he is not from Kansas City. “And then on the side of his neck, he had the Marine Corps emblem, the globe and anchor,” says Bradley, even though Albanese never served in any branch of the military. “So it made him look a little bit more honorable than he actually was.”
While charged in the 20-count indictment, neither Albanese nor Cunningham is in custody.
Odometer fraud is spiking
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates 450,000 cars are sold each year in the U.S. with rolled back odometers costing Americans more than $1 billion. In fact, NHTSA has federal agents who do nothing but odometer fraud investigations.
Missouri state officials are also seeing an increase. “Odometer fraud rose 4.7 percent in Missouri between 2017 and 2018,” Nick Humphrey, administrator of the Department of Revenue’s Compliance and Investigation Bureau, said in an email to KCUR.
Investigators say that many people believe that since odometers are now digital it is harder to roll them back. But just the opposite is true, and that is why fraud is on the rise. “Odometer technology has changed, and with that, the technology to roll them back has changed,” said Humphrey.
If you search YouTube for “odometer rollback tool” there are at least a dozen videos telling you what to buy and how to use them. On the web, however, they often are called odometer correction tools. One video is conveniently titled “Top 7 Best Odometer Correction Tools To Buy.”
Bradley from the Highway Patrol boils it down to this, “There’s an app for that.”
How to protect yourself when buying a used car
Bradley suggests buying a Carfax report as a starting point to check the mileage on a used car.
Compare the mileage on vehicle’s odometer with the mileage on the title, maintenance records or even oil change stickers.
Look at whether the numbers on the odometer align correctly or move when you hit the dashboard.
Check whether mileage matches the wear and tear on the vehicle.
“The mileage is a huge factor in the price of the car and when you roll the miles back 50,000 or 100,000 miles, you’re artificially inflating the value of that car,” Chris Basso with Carfax said in a video posted by Motorweek.org. Carfax is a company that provides histories of used cars.
LITTLETON, Colo. — The U.S. Justice Department calls it “clocking”: intentionally rolling back an odometer to make a vehicle appear less used.
Odometer rollback is “the single most common fraudulent issue in Colorado and nationwide.” That’s a bold statement made by one of this state’s top auto enforcement regulators.
So, based on a tip from one of our viewers, the FOX31 Problem Solvers decided to take a closer look at a business which advertises “odometer correction.”
Odo-Pro is a licensed business registered to the address of a corner house in Littleton.
State records show its owner is Peter Petrov Rains.
He sells parts and auto repair services, mostly through via mail.
Odometer repair and adjustment is permitted in some instances under the federal law. However, “if the mileage on the odometer cannot remain the same as before the service, the odometer must be reset to zero.”
What is not permitted is rolling miles on a vehicle backwards with the intent to defraud.
Here’s part of the federal law which says so:
327.03 A person may not
(2) disconnect, reset, alter, or have disconnected, reset, or altered, an odometer of a motor vehicle intending to change the mileage registered by the odometer;
(3) with intent to defraud..
The FOX31 Problem Solvers tested to see if Odo-Pro would reduce the miles, no questions asked, on one of our old news cars: a 2005 Dodge Durango.
We had a mechanic remove the odometer, which had 195,839 well-documented miles on it.
The FOX31 investigative team then printed off a single-sheet form we found on Odo-Pro’s website. It’s said “Odometer Correction Form” at the top.
We requested our odometer be programmed backwards — rolled back to 150, 839 — a 45,000-mile reduction.
The form required us to acknowledge that “altering the odometer for personal gain is illegal.”
And that “owners have a legal obligation to notify prospective purchasers if the vehicle’s mileage has been altered.”
We mailed our instrument cluster, an $89 cashier’s check from a local convenience store and that form to Odo-Pro in Littleton.
Four days later, our digital odometer came back in a box with “Peter Petrov’s” business card. The mileage was altered per our request: backward 45,000 miles from the original 195,839.
When the Problem Solvers team went to Odo-Pro to ask about its business practices, a man we’d seen working at Odo-Pro answered the door. He said he didn’t speak English. However, FOX31 was able to reach Peter Petrov Rains by phone from the front porch of the business address.
FOX31 asked Rains: “We had some complaints about your Odo-Pro business. That you’re essentially just rolling back odometers.”
Rains responded by telling our reporter, “What we do mainly, uh, we work only with parts. We don’t work on any kind of vehicles. We re-program clusters that have been replaced. So, we do pretty much what dealerships do. Just at a much lower cost.”
When FOX31 asked if he’d like to do an interview to explain how Odo-Pro’s “correction” program works, Rains declined.
While we were standing in front of Odo-Pro, it was hard not to notice the piles of boxes and packets heading to other states via the U.S. Postal Service: Florida, Virginia, Michigan and Pennsylvania, among others.
FOX31 called customers listed on packages, who confirmed some of the boxes indeed contained instrument clusters. None admitted to requesting rollbacks.
Chairman of the Automotive Service Association of Colorado, Brad Pellman, had never heard of Odo-Pro or Peter Rains before FOX31 called.
Pellman was curious how Rains was able to conduct a seemingly vibrant parts-and-services business correcting odometers.
“Until you brought it to my attention, I wasn’t even aware that this was being done by anybody but dealers or some kind of licensed secured facility that had the rights to do it,” Pellman told FOX31 during a recorded interview.
Pellman said that once in a great while, an auto-repair facility might re-set an odometer backwards for a vintage car or some other unique reason, but he says it’s not very common at all.
“Rolling back an odometer is certainly something we don’t even think about doing in our industry,” said Pellman. “The incentive seems to be that it would put less mileage on the odometers for a purpose I would consider fraudulent.”
FOX31 spoke with state and federal authorities who regulate and investigate reported cases of fraudulent odometer rollback services. Although declining on-camera interviews, agents said based on what happened with our TV vehicle’s odometer alone, they have serious questions about Odo-Pro’s business practices.
* FOX31 made certain the Durango — and that odometer — we used for this investigation would not be re-sold except for parts.
(InvestigateTV) – There’s a hidden danger on the roads – one that’s illegal and potentially putting families at risk: rolled-back odometers.
Experts say vehicle odometers are easier than ever to roll back.
“Our research shows there are now 1.6 million cars that are on roads across the country that have an odometer rolled back, and that’s costing consumers millions of dollars,” said Chris Basso, who works with Carfax, a company that provides vehicle history reports.
In a demonstration with Carfax, an odometer on a 2006 Chevy Silverado with 230,323 miles was tampered with in less than 30 seconds. A technician with an inexpensive electronic device was able to erase nearly 100,000 miles of wear, tear and history, leaving the Silverado with 130,483 miles.
Watch the video below to see a demonstration of an odometer rollback and hear how that affects the value of a vehicle.
“You’re simply taking a device that hacks into the car’s computer. You could take 100,000 miles off a car and artificially inflate the value of it by thousands of dollars, and you’re ripping people off,” Basso said.
Those rollbacks can be dangerous and expensive for consumers.
“You’ve got older parts that you think the car has that could break down sooner than you expect,” Basso said. “If that car’s being driven and those parts break down, then not only are the passengers of that vehicle in possible danger, but everyone else on the road too.”
SIOUX CITY, IOWA (AP) — A Nebraska man has been given three years of probation for tampering with odometers sold at his vehicle dealership in northwest Iowa.
The Sioux City Journal reports that 38-year-old Francisco Hurtado also was sentenced Wednesday to a suspended prison sentence of five years, fined $1,500 and ordered to pay more than $19,000 to seven victims. He’d pleaded guilty to two counts of fraudulent practice.
Authorities say Hurtado lives in South Sioux City, Nebraska, and owns Siouxland Auto Sales in Sioux City. Iowa investigators say they found odometers in high-mileage vehicles had been rolled down to increase the vehicles’ value.
Court records say Hurtado acknowledged replacing odometer clusters on some vehicles. The records say, however, that Hurtado had not followed Iowa law in resetting the replaced odometers to zero or to the original mileage, nor placing notices on the dashboards noting that the odometer clusters had been replaced.